Wanaka is one of New Zealand's most vibrant and beautiful towns. Located in the Otago region on the South Island, Wanaka is a must-visit destination for any traveler. Wanaka is surrounded by stunning landscapes, including the Southern Alps, Lake Wanaka, and, of course, Mt Aspiring National Park.
The truth is, there is no shortage of adventures to be had in Wanaka. In fact, there are so many things to see and do in Wanaka, that you might have a hard time narrowing it down.
That's why I've created this detailed 2 day Wanaka itinerary. Most travelers spend about 2 days in Wanaka, and if you plan carefully, you can easily hit most of the top activities and attractions in the area in this timeframe!
Disclaimer: Destguides may receive commission for purchases made through links in this article at no cost to you.
Using the map of Wanaka, you can explore all the days and stops.
Your first day in Wanaka is about getting outside and exploring the natural landscapes in and around Wanaka! Today, you'll need to lace up your hiking boots and be sure to pack a bag full of snacks, water, sunscreen, and a camera.
You'll also want to make sure you're well-rested. Today's adventure involves summiting a mountain before rewarding yourself with a locally brewed beer and watching the sunset at the Wanaka Tree!
Roy's Peak Track is undoubtedly one of the best hikes on New Zealand's South Island. This challenging day hike takes you to a famous lookout over Lake Wanaka before climbing to the summit. Expect panoramic views, but also expect to have sore legs by the end - this hike isn't for the faint-hearted!
Hiking Roy's Peak involves a huge 1,258-meter climb in elevation over 8 kilometers. That means the trail is pretty much all uphill until you reach the summit. At this point, you turn around and head back down the mountain the same path you hiked up.
Most hikers take about 6-8 hours to complete Roys Peak Track fully. With that said, if you're quick, you can do it much faster.
Roys Peak can be extremely busy in the summer months. For that reason, I recommend getting there really early and consider hiking up for sunrise! This way, you'll pretty much have the trail to yourself and avoid having to line-up to take a photo at the famous viewpoint (yes, this does happen during peak times!).
Plus, this way you'll be back down in the afternoon and have time to enjoy Wanaka a little bit before the sun goes down!
After a long day of hiking, you’re going to want to relax! And the best way to do that? With a beer in hand, of course!
Wanaka has the most micro-breweries per capita out of anywhere in New Zealand! So for beer lovers, Wanaka is the perfect destination!
Head to one of the four micro-breweries in town for a pint and a bite to eat. You can choose between Rhyme and Reason Brewery, b.effect brewing co., Ground Up Brewing, and Wanaka Beerworks. Luckily, they are all centrally located and you can easily “brewery hop” if you want!
Another option is to visit the Cardrona Hotel. This iconic hotel was established in 1863 and is still just as popular today as it was back then.
Located along the scenic drive between Queenstown and Wanaka (only a 20-minute drive from Wanaka), the hotel features a trendy beer garden with tons of local beers on tap. Their food is also delicious!
Don’t get too carried away with drinking beer because you have one more epic stop on the first day of your Wanaka itinerary – the famous Wanaka Tree!
The Wanaka Tree is simply a willow tree that grows lonely out in Lake Wanaka. With the Southern Alps as its backdrop, the Wanaka Tree is easily the most photographed tree in New Zealand! It’s so famous that it even has its own hashtag, #thatwanakatree!
Walk down the lakefront to the tree and relax on the beach as the sun goes down. This is the perfect way to end your first day in Wanaka!
Today is all about exploring some of the more unique activities Wanaka has to offer! Like yesterday, we start day two of your Wanaka itinerary with an active experience - kayaking on Lake Wanaka! Afterwards, you can take it easy in the afternoon and enjoy the scenery at the Wanaka Lavender Farm.
And if you still have time left in your day, be sure to stop at Puzzling World. This is an iconic attraction in Wanaka and fun for all ages!
In Wanaka, one of the best things to do is to get out on the lake! In a kayak, you can explore the lake without a guide and cover a decent amount of ground (or should I say “water”.)
From the lakefront in Wanaka, you can rent kayaks for NZD 20 per hour. If you want to kayak out to Ruby Island (a famous lake island in Wanaka), then you should allow at least two hours to get there and back at a decent pace.
I recommend heading out in the morning when the water is the calmest. Also, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery while you eat!
After returning your kayak, it’s time to take a little drive out to the Wanaka Lavender Farm. This farm grows exactly what the name suggests – lots and lots of lavender! Not only does the lavender smell amazing, but the purple blooms for as far as the eye can see are picture-perfect.
At the Wanaka Lavender Farm, you can wander the rows and rows of lavender taking photos and enjoying the views. You can also visit their petting zoo or onsite café, which sells interesting and delicious items, such as lavender ice cream!
Wanaka Lavender Farm is open every day from September – May from 9 am – 5 pm and costs $10 per adult to visit (this is when the lavender is blooming). From June – August, it costs $5, and they are open from 10 am – 5 pm.
This is your last activity in Wanaka, and definitely a must-do! Puzzling World has been around in Wanaka for 40 years now and actually features the world’s first 3D Maze! Today, Puzzling World is the perfect place to have some fun in their Great Maze, illusion rooms, and weird buildings.
Puzzling World is located just down the road from the Wanaka Lavender Farm, only minutes from Wanaka town center. Allow for at least an hour here to enjoy the entire experience.
Puzzling World is open daily from 9 am – 4:30 pm and costs NZD 25 for an adult combo ticket.
Finally, it is time to end day two in Wanaka with a relaxing dinner and maybe even a couple of drinks. Head to Ardmore Street along the lake’s edge and find a place to dine with a lake view!
My personal recommendation is to visit the bar and restaurant called Water Bar. They serve tasty burgers and offer an epic view of Lake Wanaka on their patio – perfect for sunset!
Wanaka is such a fun little town. Chances are that after spending two days in Wanaka for yourself, you won’t be ready to leave! But at least you can move on knowing that you did lots of fun things and saw the best of what Wanaka has to offer!
For more interesting articles about New Zealand, read:
Get excited about travel by subscribing for the latest articles and announcements.
Below are some recommended related articles